The newly elected president of the Ramblers’ Association in Scotland has suffered a third family tragedy.

Dennis Canavan, the former Labour MP turned Independent, lost his 41-year-old son Mark to motor neurone disease, less than three months after the death of his 35-year-old son, also called Dennis, from a brain tumour.

In 1989, Mr Canavan’s son Paul died at the age of 16 from skin cancer.

  Mr Canavan, the MSP for Falkirk West, will fly to Australia for the funeral of Mark who lived there with his wife Sandra and five-year-old son Tommy. He said: “I am lost for words but I find some comfort in the fact that I was able to visit Mark a few weeks ago along with my youngest son, Adam, four.

“We had some happy times together, including a Burns supper in Mark's home. That is something I shall always cherish."

Mr Canavan announced in January that he would step down from representing his constituency at Holyrood. As grough reported recently, he said he wanted to spend more time with his family, having been taught a lesson about life’s real priorities.

He was elected to take the presidency of Ramblers’ Association Scotland from magazine editor Cameron McNeish at the association’s AGM in Dunblane, Perthshire.